Luxury holidays in Tortola

Tortola (named after the Spanish word for ‘turtle dove’ by Columbus) is the poster child for daydream switched-off holidays, with its rapturously beautiful beaches, bays and cays and verdant hilly interior. It’s a firmly ‘out of office’ place, where you’ll sunbathe, sail from end to end, scuba to barnacle-encrusted wrecks and magical coral gardens and try your hand at surfing. It’s also got a reputation for full-moon parties where costumed revellers dance around beach bonfires. It’s a world away from its troubled past, a turbulent history of pirates, spice-route disputes, colonialism and several devastating hurricanes; the legacy of the British might still be evident in road names and restaurants, but the Tortola of today is very much its own – and an immensely special – place.

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When to go

For those who a white Christmas is far from ideal, Tortola is a sunny refuge, so it’s at its busiest and most expensive over the festive season. Visit from September to November and you’ll notice a decline in prices.

Getting there

  • Planes

    It’s easiest to ‘hop’ over to Tortola from the US, but you’ll first have to pass through Sint Maarten, St Thomas or Puerto Rico (all of which can be reached direct from major US cities); those flying from further afield will be looking at two stopovers. You’ll land at Tortola’s Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on Beef Island.
  • Boats

    A public ferry runs from Red Hook in St Thomas to Road Town in Tortola; the journey takes around an hour.
  • Automobiles

    You could simply stay on one sunlounger throughout the whole trip if you wish, but this – the largest of the British Virgin Islands – is peppered with beauty spots and intriguing relics from the past, so it’s worth securing some wheels and adventuring.